Opinion

LETTER: Abbotsford must change with the times

I see that Columnist Mark Rushton, a long-standing colleague in the newspaper industry and political realm has started positioning himself for the November civic elections....and I don't blame him as he is right on when it comes to the need for change at city hall....and may I add at the Board of Education.

It seems that getting elected in Abbotsford is a guarantee for a life-long job as  we witness people like Simon Gibson, whom I think has been on Council since the world began and has now gone on to a higher calling.  Across the parking lot, we see John Sutherland who has been re-elected so many times that I have lost count.

But perhaps it is just the way our electoral system works as very few people under 40 get involved and those who vote have no idea of the potential newcomers, who may have to market themselves harder.  And ethnic-based block voting really doesn’t help.

Since moving to Abbotsford in 1994, I may still be a newcomer, but I have seen tremendous demographic change and am worried about the age tree here which should be triangular with a broad base of young people under 25, but as David Baxter, Canada's foremost demographer pointed out, Abbotsford's age tree is diamond-shaped.  That bodes poorly for the City's future tax base as we need a stronger industrial base, preferably light industry, to relieve the load on commercial and residential taxpayers.

And on the Board of Education front we need to move forward on ideas promulgated by Superintendent Kevin Godden.  In my books, we need to seriously look at year-round schooling, more informative assessment of student performance or, in other words, get rid of letter grades and percentages and move to mastery learning.

Our children and grandchildren, of which I have six, need to compete with students from countries around the world as technology is altering the face of the job market.

And Abbotsford needs to change with the times and re-brand itself as the Abbotsford Police Department has done and the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association has done in creating a delightful shopping area that I totally love to visit.

Graham E. MacDonell

Abbotsford, B.C.

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